More than 2m retirees unable to find suitable work, shows NAPF research | PLSA
More than 2m retirees unable to find suitable work, shows NAPF research

More than 2m retirees unable to find suitable work, shows NAPF research

16 October 2014

The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) today (Thursday) released the first results of its new research series ‘Understanding Retirement’.

The research revealed the twenty million people in the 50-70 year old age group have a much more varied experience of retirement than might have been expected. It shows that despite the Government’s ambition to support over-50s in the UK labour market, more than two million 50-70 year old retirees are looking for suitable work but cannot find it.

The changing face of retirement

The research focused on people aged 50-70 and within this age range two distinct groups emerged: those who identified themselves as ‘retired’ (44%) and those who considered themselves ‘non-retired’ (56%).

In the ‘retired’ group, 35% were below the state pension age (65 for men and 62 for women) illustrating that for some people retirement starts before the state pension age.

Conversely, of everyone at state pension age or above, almost one in five (19%) were still doing some paid work - indicating that for many people who are at or older than the state pension age today, retirement no longer means not working. 

Retired but looking for work

Among those in the 'retired' group who were not working, one third (2.1m people) would like a job that offers some flexibility and is not too physically demanding, but had not been able to find one.

Of the ‘non-retired’ group, more than 30%, or 3.2 million people, are not working, suggesting that many more 50-70 year olds in this group may also be looking for suitable employment. 

Making friends or making money

Of the group that identified themselves as ‘retired’ but are still working, almost one third (31%) said they work to make ends meet. The remaining 69% work for a combination of extra money and because they enjoy it.

A lost pension generation

58% of the ‘retired’ group had retired before the state pension age.  In stark contrast, only 23% of those 50-70 year olds who are ‘non-retired’ expect to do the same.

Pension provision is noticeably lower among the ‘non-retired’ group with more than one in four (24%) having no private pension and no other savings (nearly twice the proportion of the ‘retired’, 14%).

Members of the ‘non-retired’ group are also half as likely to have a defined benefit pension (19%) and are no more likely to have a defined contribution pension (13%).   

Commenting on the research, Joanne Segars, Chief Executive, NAPF, said:

“This research shows that retirement has already changed significantly from the traditional image of a gold watch, going on a cruise and happily never working again. The picture is often more complicated and challenging than many of today’s 50-70 year olds ever expected.

“For this age group, which is often generalised as the richest generation in the UK, the reality is many are looking for suitable work to make ends meet but cannot find it. They need jobs that are not too physically demanding and offer flexible working, in many cases to allow them to fit in other responsibilities.  

“These jobs are in short supply and high demand, with many groups of people looking for the same sort of opportunities. If the Government is serious about putting the expertise of the over 50s to work then it must urgently develop a plan to make the right jobs available to this age group, who represent one in three of the UK population.

“Many people we spoke with as part of our research expressed a combination of happiness and trepidation at approaching retirement. This cohort will be the first to test the Government’s agenda for Freedom & Choice in pensions. Their experience will be vital in forming pension policy that helps this and future generations.”



About the research

The survey was conducted in September 2014 by Critical Research among a sample of 1243 UK adults aged 50-70. 1000 interviews were conducted on-line and 243 by phone. The sample weighted to be representative. The survey consisted of 15 questions about respondents’ current working status, attitudes to work, triggers for retirement and age of retirement

Please refer to the PDF, ‘To work or not to work?  Work and retirement among 50-70 year olds’, for a diagram illustrating the headline findings of the research. This can be downloaded here.

About the NAPF’s research series

The NAPF is launching a major research series examining the nature of retirement for those recently retired and those coming up to retirement in the next 15-20 years; essentially the generation of ‘baby boomers’ born between 1946 and 1965.

The purpose of the series is to inform both public policy and the design of private sector pension and retirement income products as well as helping to shape the guidance and help that is needed as retirement approaches, at the point of retirement and beyond.

The research programme has been initiated by phase 1 research exploring the reality of retirement today and considers the following questions.

  • To what extent are the expected changes in retirement evident today?
  • What is driving retirement decisions?
  • How is retirement being experienced – the good, the bad, the indifferent?
  • How is pension provision (and other investments and savings) shaping retirement expectations and experiences?
  • What are those hoping to retire in the near future expecting from retirement and their pensions?

A printed report providing full analysis of the phase 1 research will be available in December 2014.

About the NAPF

The NAPF is the voice of workplace pensions in the UK. We speak for over 1,300 pension schemes that provide pensions for over 17 million people and have more than £900 billion of assets. We also have 400 members from businesses supporting the pensions sector.

We aim to help everyone get more out of their retirement savings. To do this we spread best practice among our members, challenge regulation where it adds more cost than benefit and promote policies that add value for savers.

Press contacts

Lucy Grubb, Head of Media and PR, NAPF, 020 7601 1726 or 07713 073023, [email protected]
Eleanor Bennett, Press Officer, NAPF, 020 7601 1718 or 07825 171 446, [email protected]

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